© 2024 WEMU
Serving Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, MI
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

creative:impact - Bicentennials galore!

Ann Arbor Bicentennial logo
City of Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor Bicentennial logo

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy. In the weeks and months to come, host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, explores the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.

Deb Polich
David Fair
89.1 WEMU
Deb Polich, President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, at the WEMU studio.


Milton Dohoney Jr., ICMA-CM joined the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan as the Interim City Administrator in October of 2021 and as the permanent City Administrator in March of 2022. Ann Arbor is the county seat of Washtenaw County, and home to the University of Michigan. He serves as the chief executive for the administration’s workforce that is structured into 4 major service areas: Community Services, Financial & Administration Services, Public Services and Safety Services. In his capacity Milton serves on a number of boards impacting downtown development, economic growth, and strengthening the relationship between the City, and the school system.

Ann Arbor city administrator Milton Dohoney, Jr.
Yana Galanin Photography
Ann Arbor city administrator Milton Dohoney, Jr.

Milton is the author of a 2023 book entitled, “It Always Begins with Leadership.” In this book he provides an authentic perspective of what it takes to effectively lead a municipal organization.

Prior to Ann Arbor Milton served as the Assistant City Manager for the City of Phoenix for 7 years. Phoenix is the largest council-manager form of government in the United States. He was the City’s Chief Operating Officer. He had direct oversight responsibility for the following department’s: Police, Emergency Management, Census, Convention Center, Special Events, Law, Library, and several deputy city managers. From the beginning of the pandemic, he served as the City’s Incident Commander for COVID-19 response. He also developed the City’s first police civilian oversight office, The Office of Accountability & Transparency. His career spans over 35 years including serving as City Manager in Cincinnati, Chief Administrative Officer for the merged city-county government in Lexington, Kentucky, and performing as Deputy Mayor in Louisville. He also held the position of Director of Public Safety while working there.

He has played an integral role in a variety of economic & community development projects in each of the communities where he’s worked. These include the Park DuValle Revitalization, Fourth Street Live, The Banks, the Milwaukee Brewers Cactus League Stadium, and the Cincinnati Streetcar. He has also been heavily involved in the planning and execution of several major events including the Kentucky Derby, Super Bowl, World Choir Games, World Equestrian Games, College Football Championship, and the Final Four. While working in Cincinnati Milton played a pivotal role in successfully negotiating a consent decree and MOA with the Department of Justice focused on police reform.

Milton has won numerous awards during his career including the 2019 Assistant City Manager of the year award for the state of Arizona. He is active with the following organizations: International City-County Management Association (ICMA), and the Vitalyst Health Foundation Board. He has published several articles on various aspects of public management and is an accomplished public speaker. He has been a faculty member at four universities including Arizona State University, and the University of Louisville. Milton holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Louisville and Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University Southeast.


City of Ann Arbor

Milton Dohoney, Jr.

Ann Arbor Bicentennial

Ann Arbor Bicentennial Events


Deb Polich: Welcome to creative:impact on 89 one WEMU. I'm Deb Polich, president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw and your creative:impact host. Thanks for tuning in on Tuesdays for the show, this WEMU segment that explores Washtenaw County's arts and creative industries and the people and businesses and community governments who help make our community a great place for all to create, live, work, play and visit. Bicentennials are bursting out all over these parts. Candles are going to be in demand. Ypsilanti is marking its 200th anniversary this year, and the cities of Dexter and Ann Arbor get to blow out 200 candles in 2024. How does a community plan for such a celebration? I've asked Milton Dohoney Jr., Ann Arbor City Manager, to creative:impact to give us an inside look. Milton, welcome to the show.

Milton Dohoney Jr.: Thank you, Deb. I'm glad to be with you.

Deb Polich: So, you arrived in Ann Arbor rather recently joining the city staff at about 2021, right?

Milton Dohoney Jr.: Yes, I came in October of '21.

Deb Polich: And with you, you brought 35 years of city management leadership experience in cities, such as Cincinnati, Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky, and most recently, Phoenix, Arizona. Before we move on to the centennial, what compelled you to move from the warmth of Phoenix to the cooler climates of Ann Arbor?

Milton Dohoney Jr.: Well, I got a call out of nowhere from a representative of the government outlining an opportunity to come here. They felt like my skill set was a good fit. And the more we talked, the more it just seemed like the appropriate move for me to make. And I'm very excited to be here and glad I had the opportunity to come.

Deb Polich: And we're glad that you're here, too. I understand in addition to your city management experience, you've led and planned lots of really big events, even a few our listeners may have heard of, like the Kentucky Derby, the Super Bowl, the World Choir Games and the College Football Championships. Did you know that Ann Arbor was going to celebrate its bicentennial so soon after your arrival here?

Milton Dohoney Jr.: Actually, I didn't.

Deb Polich: Surprise!

Milton Dohoney Jr.: And then, one day, someone mentioned that 2024 was the bicentennial. And the more I paid attention and started to hear folks talking about it, I decided to jump into the excitement.

Deb Polich: Well, we're glad you're there. In fact, the city's very much involved. And through your experience, what would you say are some of the key components to making a community-wide event such as this successful?

Milton Dohoney Jr.: Well, clearly, there has to be a brand developed, so that the community recognizes it on site, and it's referencing the bicentennial. You have to have a lot of coordination across the community from all the different organizations and individuals that participate. And you have to sort of set a clear direction as to what the celebration is going to look like. And, in our case, we decided to celebrate for 12 full months instead of on a single day or a single week.

Deb Polich: I have to imagine, that with the enthusiasm that I know exists in our community, this has got to be quite a feat to, let's just say, herd all the cats--the cool cats--that want to make this happen.

Milton Dohoney Jr.: That's exactly right. What we've discovered, as we put our coordinating committee together, there are a number of organizations that are planning to do things. We've got involvement from the school system, from the university, from the library. A number of historical groups are looking at doing something. We're hoping the creative community can come up with some programming to be attractive. We want it to be a celebration that is inclusive and has something for everyone.

Deb Polich: And, in order to do that. I mean, because Russ, my husband's, been around since the last big celebration like this, the 150th, which, frankly, was a celebration that kind of told one point of view.... or maybe a couple, but certainly not the broadest point of view. How do we make sure that we do that correctly this time?

Milton Dohoney Jr.: We need to focus on inclusivity, and I think we've done that. For example, we're going to have a couple of legacy projects, things that will transcend just being highlighted in 2024. One is the development of a bicentennial park. That'll be a southeast area park in an area of town that's very diverse, a park that attracts a broad range of individuals. And then, we're also supporting the Black Elks Lodge to preserve a portion of the community's history and help to restore it, so it can go forward with programming. We have to be intentional about including people. We have to be intentional about equity. And we've got a very diverse coordinating committee, and, really, the community is just coming together perfectly. It's mid-June. We won't start until January, but we've already made a lot of progress.

Elks Lodge
Elks Lodge

Deb Polich: 89-1 WEMU's creative:impact continues. I'm Deb Polich, and my guest is Milton Dohoney Jr., Ann Arbor city manager, and he's smack in the middle of the plans for Ann Arbor's 200th anniversary. So, Milton, you talked about inclusivity, and nobody's going to be surprised that I'm going to ask you the question about how the arts and creative community is playing a role and how they can play a role in the celebration.

Milton Dohoney Jr.: Well, the arts community has come together already to help, one, create the logo and the brand that we're using. We're hoping that programming is being put together that will attract very diverse audiences. I didn't mention this before, but we have created an events calendar that's being managed by Destination Ann Arbor. And so, our intent is to capture all of the events and activities and place them on the calendar from January to December and then market those to the community. So, you will see what your options are. So, if you're interested in historically centered activity or if you're looking for something that's fun, if you're looking for, you know, something that speaks to performances, all of that will be available to you. And so, we are still looking for groups, for individuals. If you have ideas on how to help us celebrate, bring those forward. We'd be happy to put those on the calendar. We have to have a completely open door for all of our residents to participate in the celebration.

A200 logo (with details)
Ann Arbor Bicentennial
A200 logo (with details)

Deb Polich: And I can put a plug-in. I sit in some of these meetings that if people are wanting to be involved or organizations that want to co-brand things that they're doing in 2024, they can go to A2 Bicentennial dot org--again, A2 as the number bicentennial dot org--to add events or make suggestions. And there are some marquee events being planned in addition to the legacy projects. Correct?

Milton Dohoney Jr.: Yes. What we want to do is take an event or two each month and sort of elevate it in its marketing to have a little extra emphasis, if you will. We want to invite media to come in to cover it. One of the things we're doing is we're hiring a photographer and a videographer to capture some of these activities and events. So, we have a historical record of what has transpired. We're really just trying to pull out all the stops. You mentioned co-branding a second ago. The annual Art Fair is going to co-brand with us. And so, you will see bicentennial logos and branding at this summer's Art Fair as a prelude to next year when they're inviting their artists to think about creating paintings, etc., with the bicentennial theme in mind.

Deb Polich: And I also understand that the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run being that both communities are celebrating 200 might be a little special next year as well.

Dexter-Ann Arbor Run logo
Dexter-Ann Arbor Run
Dexter-Ann Arbor Run logo

Milton Dohoney Jr.: Yes, we're really inviting any institution or organization that already does an annual event. It doesn't take anything away from what you've always done. But you can co-brand with us. We'll put your event on the calendar. We'll give you the linkage to add the bicentennial brand to your marketing. And it's just another way to sort of extend our reach, if you will, to bring attention to the city's 200th birthday.

Deb Polich: Well, Milton, with your experience and the passion of all those involved, 2024 is sure to be a spectacular year here in this area. Thank you so much for filling us in on all the plans.

Milton Dohoney Jr.: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you. And 2024 is coming. So, we want everybody to be a part of the party.

Deb Polich: That's Ann Arbor city manager Milton Dohoney Jr. Find out more about Milton and the Ann Arbor bicentennial plans, including how you can get involved, at WEMU dot org. You've been listening to creative:impact. I'm Deb Polich, president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw and your host, Mat Hopson is our producer. We invite you to join us every Tuesday to meet the people who make Washtenaw creative. This is 89 one WEMU FM, Ypsilanti. Public radio from Eastern Michigan University.

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU todayto keep your community NPR station thriving.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

Polich hosts the weekly segment creative:impact, which features creative people, jobs and businesses in the greater Ann Arbor area.
Related Content
  • Milan resident Dave Snyder seems to have found that magic moment when buildings that just seemed old and uninteresting become nostalgic and worthy of restoration and preservation. One by one, he is working to bring buildings along Milan’s main street back to life. Dave tells us how he’s getting it done when he joins Deb Polich on this edition of "creative:impact".
  • Rob Meyer-Kukan is the owner of 7 Notes Natural Health. He is a musician and a licensed massage and sound therapist. What’s a sound therapist you ask? Rob joins Deb Polich, WEMU's "creative:impact" host, to enlighten us about this practice and the healing nature of sound.
  • James Parry Eyster – AKA Jason – knows Frank Porter Glazier – perhaps Chelsea, Michigan’s most prominent and notorious resident. In fact, Jason found Glazier’s life so fascinating, he was compelled to write a musical to tell the tale. Meet Jason and hear all about the drama and intrigue when he joins Deb Polich, WEMU's "creative impact" host.